Microsoft formally revealed Windows 11 today despite the rampant leaks around the internet over the last week. The Windows 11 presentation had a lot of talking points, but the key takeaways were that it will offer optimizations for Intel’s upcoming hybrid-core Alder Lake architecture, more features for gaming like improved Auto HDR support, and a new user interface for a more “modern” experience.
Perhaps the best part of this announcement is the fact that all Windows 10 users will be able to upgrade for free when the new OS becomes available. Microsoft didn’t provide a specific date, but based upon what we know about Intel’s next generation of CPUs, Windows 11 could arrive in October.
We’ll focus on the gaming features , but it’s also worth knowing the basics about what Windows 11 will offer. Microsoft promises a lighter-weight experience with an updated UI that is easier to use. We’re getting the impression that means less bloat on the core OS and the Microsoft apps, which would certainly be welcome. The UI is already being compared to Apple’s design, and that’s an accurate comparison upon first glance. It should be easier to use on mobile devices in particular, as a lot of the design focus was clearly placed on improving the touch controls.
The best gaming experience yet?
That’s what Microsoft generally had to say about the gaming experience. Xbox head Sarah Bond discussed bringing Auto HDR to over 1000 games (provided your monitor supports it). In keeping with the times, the company showed off a recently released title from Bethesda called Skyrim. Jokes aside, it does clearly look better with Auto HDR and provides a good example of how the updated lighting can make even older games look better.
The addition of Direct Storage was also mentioned, which will update the DirectX 12 API with improved loading techniques to better make use of speedy PCIe SSDs. Old games won’t get any better, but this does mean more developers will be able to utilize the technology to improve loading times in games and make loading more efficient overall.
We already mentioned the optimizations for Intel’s new CPU design, but this should allow Windows to fully leverage the new capabilities for the best in-game performance, provided everything works as intended. Intel’s next generation will offer much better multi-threaded support, so you’ll be able to do more things simultaneously in Windows. Get those background apps ready. Interestingly, Microsoft also mentioned that AMD has some type of Ryzen silicon in development that will also work well with Windows 11. We’ll just have to wait and see what that’s all about.